"Honey works to make inflammatory acne look less angry because it has an osmotic effect on the skin—it can draw out [excess fluid] and help reduce inflammation," says Dermatologist Dr Kavita Mariwalla of the Mariwalla Dermatology Clinic in New York.
The craze behind using raw honey on your skin is not because celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow swear by it. There is actually a scientific basis for it.
Acne is caused by an imbalance of hormones that lead to an overproduction of oil inside a skin pore. The excess oil blocks the skin pore and allows bacteria already present on the skin to multiply.
This bacteria, known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), inflames the skin until it erupts in small pimples known as acne.
Acne is the cause of much grief not just to teenage girls, but to adults of both sexes. People spend lots of money putting chemical-laced creams on their skin to treat their acne.
For example, a 30g tube of Dermalex acne treatment cream costs up to £18.99 ($25). This works out to an incredible £633 ($833) per kilogram.
This is one reason why many people are turning to raw honey to relieve their acne.
The science behind applying raw honey on the skin to use as a topical treatment for acne is very simple.
An April 2011 paper published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine titled "Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity" describes the three things that raw honey contains which can help to reduce acne.
1) Raw honey contains hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is present in many acne treatment creams because it helps to dry up the excess oil on the skin that leads to acne.
2) Raw honey contains living enzymes that destroy bacteria. Applying raw honey onto acne kills the P. acnes bacteria which is the root cause of acne.
3) Raw honey is hygroscopic. This means that it contains very little water in its natural state but can readily absorb and hold moisture.
When raw honey is applied on the skin it enters the skin pores and sucks up any excess moisture. As this moisture leaves the skin pores, it takes with it any oil, dirt and bacteria that is causing inflammation of the skin as in acne.
It is essential that the honey used on skin is raw and unfiltered. Commercial supermarket honey is heat-treated and filtered in a process that destroys all of the medicinal properties of honey.
It is also recommended that the honey used on skin is organic. This means that the honey is certified by an official organic control authority to be free of any artificial chemicals, pesticides and antibiotics which could have an adverse effect on the human body.
The best way to use raw organic honey as an acne treatment is to first wash or cleanse the skin, then apply a very small film of raw organic honey directly onto the acne.
If you can see the raw honey, you have applied too much. It should only feel a little sticky all over the acne.
Leave the raw honey on for 15-30 minutes and then wash off using first warm, then cold, water.
The best honey from our range that we recommend for use on skin is our 20+ Active Raw Organic Coffee Bean Honey from Mexico. It has lab tested antibiotic strength equal to a 20.5% phenol antiseptic solution and is equal to a MGO 829 manuka honey.
From our standard range, our Raw Organic Rivera Gum Honey from Uruguay is also a popular honey for use on skin due to its creamy consistency.